Tuesday, 24 May 2011

fashion – between protest and mainstream

I have noticed something interesting in a discussion with my friends; people who dress well are suspicious and accused of being pretentious. If you have a closer look on Finnish fashion trends you will realize that there is a tendency towards the individualistic look which is often based on a protest against whatever one considers mainstream. I have never seen before so many gothic lolitas, punk girls, rocker and rastafaris than here in Helsinki.

But the question is when does rebellion and underground style become mainstream and what do well dressed people pretend to be?

One approach to the topic is the punk scene of the late 70s. Born 35 years ago, punk influences most art and culture forms, from music to literature and visual arts to fashion. While strongly denying art and fashion, these creative minds did want their images and clothes to change the world.

"pretty vacant", poster by Jamie Reid

One example is fashion designer Vivienne Westwood who opened together with her husband Malcom McLaren in 1971 their shop “Let it Rock at 430 Kings Road” in London. Though during this time the hippie movement dominated the fashion look, both found their inspiration in rebellion and 1950s clothing and music.

Johnny Rotten (Sex Pistols)
wearing a Seditionaries t-shi

They went further and began to design t-shirts with provocative messages leading to their prosecution under the obscenity laws; their reaction was to re-brand the shop and produce even more hardcore images.
In 1976 the Sex Pistol’s God Save the Queen, managed by McLaren, went to number one and was refused to be played by radio stations. The shop reopened as Seditionaires transforming the straps and zips of obscure sexual fetishism into fashion. The media called it ‘Punk Rock’ and after a time Punk was absorbed into the mainstream and Vivienne Westwood is today one of the most celebrated fashion designers.

In my opinion, everyone should wear what expresses his or her personality. I don’t think fancy clothes in general are more pretentious than a punk outfit and everything mainstream has to be doomed. If I am invited to a nice dinner and I put on a fancy dress, I also show that I appreciate the person I am together with, and it doesn’t prevent me from slipping into my hot loved Slayer shirt for the next approaching festival.
The important feature is that everyone finds the own style and isn’t just a copy of the latest fashion magazine.

One example is the project Hel Looks founded by Liisa Jokinen and Sampo Karjalainen. I love their blog, which shows how creative and stylish people are.
Have a look at Hel Looks! And enjoy the video!

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